Downton Abbey Portrays Reality of Interfaith RelationshipsBy Gerri Miller
Go inside Season 5 Episode 9 where the story line of Atticus and Rose's interfaith relationship comes to a head.Go To Pop Culture
This article is reprinted from the Boston Jewish Advocate with permission of the author. Visit www.thejewishadvocate.com.
She's been getting married since she was eight. I swear! Her main topic of conversation has always been . . . her wedding! At 10, she described the gown. At 15, her thoughts turned to the size of the diamond as she would describe the ring in detail. At 21, it was all about the bachelorette party and what craziness her friends would have. Then at 27, she started talking about location. "Dana," she would say, "a wedding is all about the setting." Then at 31, after being a bridesmaid a half dozen times, she became an expert on what NOT to have friends wear if you wanted to keep them as friends. At 32, she had designed the menu. And finally, the main event.
And so it was with great pleasure that I was recently able to attend my cousin's wedding to help welcome her groom Michael to the family. Mike's a tall, handsome, intelligent, and easy-going man who's already promised to run a marathon with his new cousin.
Not yet being an expert on weddings (as my friends have been getting married in foreign countries or they are just still on the engagement phase), my opinion is probably biased, but Heather really put together a beautiful affair. She looked gorgeous in her A-lined, strapless gown, and as an event coordinator, her planning was impeccable. Even on this rainy Saturday, the Virginia country club resembled a mix of confederacy comfort with French elegance as the private facility had a cozy, chateau-like feel. The wet bar flowed with all sorts of fun concoctions and the band kept everyone on the move.
So when I tell you how pleased I am for her, I really mean it. Yet a part of me still feels a twinge of sadness. Why sadness? Well, Heather married an amazing man who also happens to be Catholic. Is it good or bad? It's neither. It is what it is.
The ceremony was performed by a seasoned rabbi and a 25-year-old priest, who worked well together. The priest was a bit nervous since this was his first interfaith marriage. The rabbi spoke of blending the two cultures and noted with interest that Michael's name is biblical while Heather's is not. The two religious figures spoke about love and how coming from two faiths can bring people together by creating spirituality within the home. They spoke about love's complexities, and how love can conquer all. My cousins saw their interfaith marriage not as an obstacle, but as a challenge and complement. They view their differing backgrounds as a way to make their marriage stronger through the use of faith.
Now Heather, whose parents are both Jewish, has never been affiliated or felt comfortable with the Jewish community. In fact, while fantasizing about the wedding years earlier, religion probably never figured into her wedding plans. In a sense, she's a religious blank page. It was a choice her parents made when raising her, as she had no formal religious education or exposure.
She turned into a beautiful woman without the commitment to her ancestors' faith. By contrast, her groom comes from a deeply committed, Irish Catholic family. Mike attends mass regularly and his family seems to be fun loving, warm and they were certainly gracious to all their guests.
I'm not advocating or discriminating against interfaith marriage, but obviously it is a reality. Only time will tell if the differences in religions will be an obstacle. And I'm wondering, should we as Jews be mourning the loss of one of our own, or should we be happy that she found true love?
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